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Swimming with Fido

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Swimming is great exercise not just for you but also for your dog. A great think about hiking is that when you go hiking you often find amazing lakes to go swimming in. This is an amazing way to cool off after a hot hiking trail for both you and your dog.

When you do hiking and expect to end up going in a river or lake and are taking your puppy it is critical to think about the dog safety devices available to you. Some dogs are natural swimmers. However there are many dogs that are not good swimmers. Even if your dog is an amazing swimming the waters you find when hiking can have strong currents or otherwise be unpredictable. Even a dog who is a good swimmer may need swim safety gear.

One piece of equipment to consider is a personal floatation device. These are available in different sizes and levels of durability and buoyancy. Other equipment and products to consider is shampoo to clean the dog after the swim and toys. There is a multitude of toys that are buoyant to make the swim more fun for everyone.

Safety Begins Before the Water
Safety Begins Before the Water Lucinda Roth

Safety Begins Before the Water

Safety begins before you even enter the water. Consider buying a dog personal floatation device. These are basically life jackets for dogs. There are various models. Some are light duty designed predominantly for pools and calm still lakes. Others are medium duty and more for your mild rivers. There are others that are heavy duty that are great for white water environments.

Learning to Swim Begins Before the Water
Learning to Swim Begins Before the Water Lucinda Roth

Learning to Swim Begins Before the Water

Some dogs may not be natural swimmers. These dogs may still want to jump in the water when you are hiking. If you have one of these dogs consider getting a personal floatation device that is designed for training dogs to swim. These often have multiple buoyancy levels to give dogs a push but still keep them safe. They may also be slightly different that a typical PFD as to how they fit. When purchasing one make sure to get a buoyancy level that fits your dog.

Sizing the PFD
Sizing the PFD Lucinda Roth

Sizing the PFD

It is critical to get the right size for the dog personal floatation device. When you are hiking and hit water it is not uncommon for the water to have a current. You do not want to have the PFD too big and slip off your dog and float away. Similarly you do not want it to be too tight and restrict movement or worse.  The sizes are based on the diameter of the chest on your dog or the widest part of the rib cage. Packages typically show sizes by these diameters.

Visibility of the PFD
Visibility of the PFD Lucinda Roth

Visibility of the PFD

At a beach where there is a bunch of people or in an area where there are visual obstructions the color and reflectivity of the PFD can be vitally important. Consider PFD options that are brightly colored or even have a reflective device. Your dog may look amazing is black, however black may not be the best color for safety. Neon yellow and neon orange while not as pretty may be infinitely better options for the dog's safety.

Grab it
Grab it Lucinda Roth

Grab it

While on land and sand you may be able to let the dog run free. In water you may want the dog to be easy to grab at any second. This is especially true when you are in a boat. It is not uncommon for dogs to get very excited and want to jump out of the boat. Consider getting a PFD for the dog that has a handle on it. This is great for enabling you to grab the dog and help the dog back into the boat. If you are hiking it is also great when a dangerous animal or another dog is near and you want to quickly grab the dog and get the dog near you.

What do you recommend
What do you recommend Lucinda

What do you recommend

The best recommendation is to look at the PFD options yourself. If you can consider taking the dog with you so you can see which are most comfortable for the dog.

The chain pet stores often have a wide selection of generic life jackets and fashionable life jackets. These are great for calmer areas. You may want to check out sports stores if you are planning frequent trips in rough water as they may have more options for heavy duty jackets.

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